Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Scene From The Jihad, VI

Almanzor, to show his true blue mettle, went north again, this time to the most revered western shrine of Christendom, Santiago de Compostela, where the apostle Saint James is reputed to be buried. Of all Almanzor's campaigns, this has remained the most famous and retains, even to this day, the full flavor of the Jihad. To quote a Muslim scholar, Compostela was to the Christians what the Kaaba is to the Muslims. The Muslim crusader marched out of Cordova on July 3, 997, advanced north Portugal, reached Compostela on August 11, found the town empty and all the inhabitants gone save for an old priest kneeling by the tomb of St. James. "What dost thou do here?" asked Almanzor, puzzled. "I am praying to St. James," replied the old man, not at all impressed by the Muslim soldiery. "Pray on," said Almanzor, who ordered his soldiers to leave the old priest alone and to respect the shrine, but to burn the town.
-- Paul Fregosi, Jihad in the West, 1998

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